Saturday, September 27, 2008

Top Ten Senate Races

Our recent posts were about competitive states. We'll have more on that subject soon but right now, we are going to give an update on the Senate races. We've extended our rankings to ten from seven in our last post. Instead of putting the Senate seat most likely to switch on the bottom of the line, we will put it on the top of the line. It will still be ranked number one. The outlook for the Senate seems to be getting worse for the Republicans. The Republicans who seem to have escaped the possibility of a competitive race are Susan Collins, Mitch McConnel and John Cornyn. It seems likely that the Landrieu will win and that the Democrats will win about 5 to 7 seats. They won't have a filibuster proof majority but they may still be able to reject filibusters with help of moderate Republicans such as Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. The Democrats will finally be able to send "Traitor" Joe to the other side of the aisle. Enough chit chat, to the rankings.

No surprise, even with Warner's poor keynote speech, he is leading at about 20 points. Jim Gilmore has absolutely no chance. Warner will be the next Senator from the Old Dominion and his great showing may help Obama enough to give the state to him.

2. New Mexico
Tom Udall has almost a great chance as Warner to win this seat. The NRCC have already pulled their ads out of the state. Pearce is just too conservative and Udall continues to lead by double digits. Also, Udall will be helped by the fact that Obama is leading in the mid single digits in most New Mexico polls and will probably win the state.

3. Colorado
This seat is probably going to switch as well. Bob Schaffer's strategy of painting Udall as a Boulder Liberal either hasn't worked or the voters don't mind. Colorado will be close this election but the Democratic trend in Colorado will probably be enough for Udall to win. He is currently leading in the mid single digits in most polls and that lead is likely to hold.

4. New Hampshire
After wondering whether New Hampshire and Alaska should hold this spot, we chose New Hampshire. Please note that we think New Hampshire is just a bit ahead of Alaska. Jeanne Shaheen has had a lead in the polls for the last few months but it seems to be dropping now. Some people think that Sumunu who has more money will be the winner. Although the race has been getting a bit closer, we expect Shaheen to win over Sumunu. This is not the first match between the two. Sumunu won by 4 points in 2002 which was a Republican leaning year. This is definitely another Democratic year which will probably be what it takes to make Sumunu lose.

5. Alaska
Stevens is still in trouble. He was indicted recently and his trial will be held soon. Some voters still do not seem to mind that Ted Stevens may have broken the law but enough care to make Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich have a small lead over Stevens. Palin may have helped Stevens a bit but now that her popularity is wearing down, Stevens will probably sink lower in the polls. Even if he is not found guilty, Stevens will be in for the fight of his life.

6. Minniesota
This was another race that we had a hard time placing on the rankings. It is just a hair ahead of Oregon. In the summer, Al Franken had trouble finding his footing and was not viewed very favorably. Now he has really started to campaign and the wind of change is in the air. Norm Coleman has to distance himself from Bush which is pretty hard. Also, Franken must do well in the Twin Cities core and keep Coleman's margins in the counties around the core lower than the margins in the core. Coleman won in 2002 because of turnout in the area. Expect this race to be one of the closest on the cycle.

7. Oregon
Even though Jeff Merkley is not the best candidate to beat Gordon Smith, this race is definitely getting close. Smith must distance himself from Bush and he is pretty moderate so it may not be too hard. Still, Smith must fight a wind of change and also must acknowledge that Obama will probably carry Oregon in the high single digits which will help Merkley. Although we think in the end that Smith will win by 2 to 3 points, this race could be decided by less than one point.

8. North Carolina
In June we thought that this could be a close race but a month later it seemed that Elizabeth Dole would have an easy time winning. That will not be the case. Kay Hagan seems to be coming back and a recent Rasmussen poll shows Hagan ahead by 3 points. Hagan will be helped by increased African American turnout and enthusiasm brought on by Obama. Also, Dole will have to distance herself from Bush which will be hard for her. This race could get closer and Hagan may be able to pull off a win.

9. Mississippi
There does not seem to be much hope for the Democrats here. Roger Wicker has been able to maintain a lead of about 5 to 6 points. Democrats may still be able to increase the amount of African American turnout but it probably will not be as high as they want. Ronnie Musgrove may be able to win a small share of the white vote but that probably will not be enough. We are not writing Musgrove off, we just think his chances are not good.

10. Louisiana
This race is no longer competitive. It is the only Democratic race on our rankings and it may not be on here any longer when we do our next Senate rankings. Landrieu continues to lead and a Rasmussen poll out today shows her leading by 13 points. That is a large lead and that means she is pretty safe. The only real reason we put this race on the line was that other races were not close enough.

We will probably put either one or two more posts with Senate rankings before election day. Your thoughts, questions and comments are always appreciated.

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